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Best business credit cards for startups

Many business credit cards offer helpful benefits for startups.

Running a startup is never easy. You’re juggling multiple priorities at any given moment — including, of course, your company’s finances.

A business credit card can be your best friend for covering last-minute expenses and there are lots of cards that cater to startups. But watch for cards that require personal guarantees: in the event of delinquency, you’ll be on the hook for company debt and your personal credit may be affected.

What are the best business credit cards for startups?

There are many business cards on the market, but it’s likely only a few offer benefits that meet your specific needs. Here are a few of our top picks.

Best for no personal guarantee

Brex 30 Card

Finder rating 4.9 / 5 ★★★★★

Apply now
on Brex's secure site
The Brex 30 Card is a charge card specifically designed for startups. What makes this card unique is that it doesn't require a personal guarantee to apply for the card. This means your personal assets can't be used to cover your business debt in case your company fails to pay it off.

Best for travel

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
This is one of your best choices if you travel often. You'll earn accelerated points on travel and other business categories. And when you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they're worth 25% more.

Best for intro APR

U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

Read review
Terms apply, see rates & fees
If you need to take on interest-free debt for longer than a month, you’ll want a card with a strong intro APR. The U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® is one of your top options, offering a long zero-interest promotion and strong rewards in select business categories.

Best for average credit

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Finder rating 3.6 / 5 ★★★★★

When you’re bootstrapping your startup, you might not have the best credit, from running up high balances or taking out loans. When other cards might be out of reach, the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business may be a viable option because of its unique features: no annual fee, unlimited cash back on your purchases and you can apply with an average credit score.

Best for flat cash back

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

If your expenses spread through many categories, like office supplies, travel and shipping costs, a flat-rate rewards card like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business might help. A flat-rate card means you earn a flat 2% cash back on all purchases with no category restrictions. Also, you get to earn a generous signup bonus and you won't pay an annual fee for the first year.

Best for building credit

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Finder rating 4.1 / 5 ★★★★★

Businesses that have no credit history or those that have poor credit score should consider the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card. Being a secured card means you have to make a deposit of between $500 and $25,000 to act as your credit limit. If Wells Fargo upgrades your card to an unsecured one or if you decide to close your account, Wells Fargo will return your deposit if there's no outstanding debt.

How we selected our top cards

We measure a few different factors when comparing available credit cards for startup businesses, including credit score requirements, introductory APRs, reward programs, points or cash back earned per dollar, reward earning categories signup bonuses and other added perks particularly beneficial to startups. The cards we highlight demonstrated exemplary performance in one or more of these categories.

What’s changed in 2022

Our list stood relatively stable this year, with most cards maintaining strong performance and remaining top picks in their respective categories.

Pros and cons of startup credit cards

Pros

  • Access to funds
  • Earn rewards on purchases
  • Get 0% intro APR period on purchases
  • Build business credit
  • Track employee spending

Cons

  • Could damage your personal credit in case of delinquency
  • You may be personally liable for the company debt
  • Credit limit may not be enough
  • Could pay an annual fee

How do I choose the best small business credit card for a startup?

Your startup’s finances can be simplified with the right credit card. Here’s what to consider to choose the right one:

  • Annual fee. Startup margins tend to be razor-thin and the last thing you want to factor into your balance sheet is the added expense of an annual fee. There are numerous no-annual-fee business cards available but bear in mind that you’ll earn more powerful rewards with cards you have to pay for.
  • 0% intro APR. Getting a business off the ground can be expensive — especially in the first year of business. Seek a credit card with a 0% introductory APR so you can cover upfront costs without the added weight of generated interest. Intro APRs for business cards tend to span up to 15 months.
  • Signup bonus. Some cards offer points, others offer cash, but either way, a signup bonus can help offset unexpected expenses while you focus on getting up and running.
  • Rewards. Cards with annual fees may pay for themselves if they’ve got a solid enough rewards program. Review regards program criteria against your business’ spending habits to find a program your startup can profit from.
    • Employee cards. Most card providers let you add employee cards at no additional cost. You can set spending limits, monitor card activity and easily export card data to accounting software.

    Should I get a business credit card or use my personal card?

    There are plenty of benefits to using a business card instead of a personal card. A business card can help you separate your personal spending from your business spending. While it may be tempting to rely on your personal credit card for business expenses — especially when you’re just starting out — this can have several unintended consequences. For example, separating your personal spending from your business spending can help you easily differentiate expenses and sort deductions come tax season.

    Plus, a separate credit card for your business helps protect your personal assets if your business is incorporated and you find yourself facing a lawsuit. And even if your business isn’t entirely official, a business card offers other perks too:

    • Build business credit
    • Higher credit limit
    • Rewards on business-related purchases

    Can I get a business card before my company is official?

    Yes. In fact, freelancers and private contractors are eligible for business credit cards as long as they can prove their income.

    While different card providers have different eligibility criteria, you should be prepared to offer the following information when you apply for a business credit card:

    • Name of your business
    • Industry type
    • Business tax ID number
    • Time in business
    • Number of employees
    • Annual revenue
    • Estimated monthly expenses
    • Total annual income
    • Social Security number
    • Personal credit history

    When should startups reconsider their credit cards?

    What’s suitable for your business in its infancy may not work long-term — especially if your business experiences rapid growth or a sudden change in trajectory. One reason you may want to consider swapping card providers is if your business has outgrown your current card’s credit limit. Or perhaps your business checking account is stationed with another bank and there are perks or incentives for combining your accounts.
    A practical way to evaluate whether your current card serves the needs of your company is by reviewing your business expenses and spending habits. Does your current card offer perks and rewards that benefit your business? Would it be possible to snag a lower APR by switching providers?

    Just because a particular card worked for your startup doesn’t mean it will continue to work for your business two, three, five or ten years down the road. The bottom line? Don’t be afraid to switch it up.

    Compare cashback business cards

    Here’s a quick side-by-side look at some of the cashback business cards available.

    Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
    Premium Capital on Tap Business Credit Card
    $199 cashback when $15,000 spent in the first 3 months
    2% cashback on all purchases
    $0
    Earn 2% cashback on all purchases. One of the highest unlimited cashback rates you'll find on a business card.
    Brex 30 Card
    Up to $150,000 worth of credits and offers for business services like Amazon Web Services, Slack, Zoom, Google Ads and more
    8x points on rideshares, 5x on Brex Travel, 4x at restaurants, 3x on software subscriptions and 1x points on all other purchases
    $0
    The first corporate card for startups. No personal guarantee or security deposit needed, meaning your personal credit score won't be affected.
    Divvy Business Credit Card
    N/A
    Monthly: 2x on restaurants, 2x on hotels, 1.5x on recurring software subscriptions, 1x on everything else
    Semi-monthly: 4x on restaurants, 3x on hotels, 1.75x on recurring software subscriptions, 1x on everything else
    Weekly: 7x on restaurants, 5x on hotels, 2x on recurring software subscriptions, 1.5x on everything else
    $0
    Earns more points per eligible category based on how often you pay your credit card balance.
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    Compare up to 4 providers

    Bottom line

    Your startup faces unique challenges, which some cards can address more effectively than others. Business cards are tailor-made to help you overcome challenges related to your business. If you don’t have a business credit history or if you have bad credit, compare cards for no credit.

    If you’d like to compare more products, visit our guide on business credit cards.

    Frequently asked questions

    Am I personally responsible for debt charged to a business credit card?

    Most providers will ask you to personally guarantee the debt you accrue on your business card. For that reason, it’s a good idea to only spend as much as you can personally pay off.

    Will I know in advance what my APR will be for my business card?

    As with personal cards, you won’t know your APR until you receive your card. The better your personal credit — and your business credit, if you have it — the more likely you are to receive an attractive APR.

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